22 June 2018

Australia’s Governor-General has recognised one of Australia’s longest serving fisheries observers, Martin Tucker, for his work in the Southern Ocean and the seas near Antarctica.

The Australian Antarctic Medal was awarded to Mr Tucker, for his scientific work with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).

Martin Tucker was awarded the Australian Antarctic Medal for his scientific work with AFMA

“I was on a fishing vessel near Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean when I received the email telling me that I’d been awarded the Australian Antarctic Medal,” Mr Tucker said.

“To tell you the truth, I thought it was hoax email and almost trashed it, but I thought I’d check and when I found out it was true, I was surprised and then felt really honoured.”

The CEO of AFMA, Dr James Findlay, said Mr Tucker has been on 31 voyages as an AFMA Observer aboard commercial fishing vessels that harvest Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish and mackerel icefish.

“Antarctic fishing voyages can last several months, and ‘Tuck’ has spent 2,790 days at sea in the Southern Ocean, which is really impressive,” Dr Findlay said.

“He’s a fairly unassuming man who has been worked tirelessly to collect data used by researchers both here and overseas.

“Most importantly, the data is used by AFMA, AAD and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), to ensure these fisheries remain sustainable now and into the future.”

Standing at 178cm, Martin Tucker, is sometimes dwarfed by the fish he’s working with, as many of the Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish weigh in at 80 or more kilos.

“My work has me collecting samples such as otoliths, the inner ear of the fish, to determine age, and I’ve also collected muscle tissue for DNA, gonads and stomach content samples.

“In 1991 I started work for the Australian Fisheries Service and then AFMA was created and took over management of the fisheries, so I’ve been in the same job for 27 years.

“I’ve worked on commercial fishing vessels in the waters around Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Macquarie Island, the Ross Sea, Admundsen Sea and east Antarctica.

“My work still surprises me and I still love it. I guess I’m just not the kind of guy who can sit in an office, I need to be out at sea in the action.”